200,000 customers of HSBC, the multi-national bank, have mystery shoppers be thankful for this holiday season. Mystery shoppers employed by the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority have caught the company giving customers wrongful advice, in violation of financial regulations. The potential consequences are high. The bank estimates it will pay at out least $32 million dollars in compensation to customers.
HSBC is not the only company to be recently caught by mystery shoppers.
From the Guardian UK: “The review of advice at HSBC is the latest crackdown by the FCA on the quality of investment advice given by banks and building societies. In September, it fined Axa Wealth Services £1.8m after uncovering potentially widespread mis-selling of stocks and shares Isas in branches of Clydesdale Bank, Yorkshire Bank and the West Bromwich building society.”
Mystery shopping is a tool in a wide variety of industries, including retail businesses, apartment complexes, doctors. Mystery shoppers are commonly employed by banks to ensure regulatory compliance. It appears, they now have more reason than ever to ensure they are following the law: The next mystery shopper at the bank might be employed by the government, and not by the bank.